Newfoundland’s Mark Bragg is clearly an artist that values quality over quantity. With more than five years having passed since the release of his last full-length,Your Kiss, Bragg is back with one of the most contemplative and thoughtful records of his career, Winter.
Bragg took some time to speak with us not too long ago about what the heck he’s been up to, the inspiration behind his new record and more.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve heard from you. What have you been up to in the seven or so years since the release of your last album?
Mostly parenting and dog walking. In terms of music related stuff, I did score two feature films and one documentary since “Your Kiss”, and I had a hand in producing some annual and weekly events. I’ve been picking away at the writing too, of course, and I have a fun collaborative band going called The Catalina Reapers.
Your new record Winter marks quite a stylistic shift from what people know of you or what they think they know of you. What inspired the change in direction this time around?
I’ve always written songs that sound like that, but they never really found a home as a “collection”. When I was ready to make a new record, I had ballads and I had bangers. They weren’t really fitting well together, so I chose to double down on the ballads. I’ve always wanted to make a slightly piano based album anyway. You can coax expression out of any instrument, but I have a special relationship with the piano. It seems to be easier to frame up and convey the message or the story in songs of heartbreak and loss on a big old piano with all that wood, wire, and dynamic range.
Does any of it have to do with just getting older and following your creative gut as opposed to living up to what you think people might be expecting?
It’s definitely not about living up to expectations, since I think a lot of people who know my shows and my work have come to expect the opposite. But I’m not trying to rock the boat either. I don’t know if I’m a songwriter with a super clear “sound”. I enjoy the challenge of writing in lots of styles. Almost any good riff, lick, or chord progression can inspire a character dive to glean images and stories. It doesn’t matter the tempo, sonic palette, or genre. Well it does *matter*, because it informs the whole process, but I’m just saying
that there are so many fun and inspiring ways to skin a cat I guess.
Not to insinuate your previous efforts lacked maturity or clarity by any stretch of the imagination, but you’ve clearly stepped up your songwriting game on Winter. “What’s Goin’ On” is devastatingly beautiful.
Thanks so much for that. I’m pretty pleased with where writing is taking me right now. I know I have a long way to go, but this feels like a step in the right direction.
What does the future hold for you once this album has been cast out into the world? Do you hope to close the gap between releases with your next effort?
I absolutely do hope to close the gap. I won’t lie to you, I’m pretty confident that procrastination has hurt my career, and I count myself super lucky that I still have supporters given my lack of output. But it’s not damaged beyond repair that’s for sure. I am already working on my next project, and I will likely share bits and bobs along the way this time, to keep myself accountable.